Top receiving corps in the 2012 NFL season

The NFL has morphed into a passing league over the past few seasons. While a running game is still important, a team is not going to win without at least one good receiver on the roster. If a team has more than one good receiver on the roster, it has a chance to win a championship. What teams have the best group of wide receivers?

Green Bay Packers: This should come as no surprise to anyone. Aaron Rodgers is one of the best when it comes to making receivers look good. However, the guys who catch his passes are superbly talented. Randall Cobb is one of the faster receivers in the league. James Jones and Jordy Nelson have emerged as more than just depth players in the absence of Greg Jennings. Greg Jennings is one of the best players in the game when he is healthy.

Detroit Lions: Everyone knows who Calvin Johnson is. However, most people are unaware of the other players who play receiver for Detroit. Titus Young is emerging as Matthew Stafford’s other favorite target when Johnson is being taken away. Tight end Brandon Pettigrew is another strong receiving target in that offense as well. It is no surprise that the Lions were able to rack up over 5,000 yards in the air last season. Read more…

2012 NFL Power Rankings Week 6: Dirty Birds still take the top spot

Matt Ryan

Matt RyanWith just two undefeated teams remaining, and fighting for the top spot, the top of our 2012 NFL Power Rankings are filled again with the same teams. However, the middle of the pack continues to jump around as the Saints get their first win, the Packers lose again, the Bears win in dominate fashion, and the NFC West continues to shake things up.

1. Atlanta Falcons (5-0)↑1

The Falcons didn’t blowout the Redskins, but they did enough to take back the number one sport in our NFL Power Rankings..

2. Houston Texans (5-0)↓1

I was expecting the Texans to come out and crush the Jets, but they only won by six. What’s more, they seem to have lost Brian Cushing for the year.

3. San Francisco 49ers (4-1)↔

After having a 100-yard rusher, two 100-yard receivers, and a 300-yard passer, these 49ers can say they’ve done something on offense that the Joe Montana and Steve Young 49ers never did.

4. Baltimore Ravens (4-1)↔

Baltimore’s offense took a step back in the week 5 win against the Chiefs, but a win is a win.

5. New England Patriots (3-2) ↔

The Patriots have a ton of weapons and as long as they can keep utilizing them no one will know which one to focus on.

6. Chicago Bears (4-1)↑7

“Peanut” Tillman and Lance Briggs each now have two straight games with a touchdown. Given that these gentlemen play defense, I doubt this pace keeps up, but ride it while you can Bears fans.

7. Green Bay Packers (2-3)↓2

The Packers suffered devastating injuries on Sunday with the loss of  B.J. Raji and Cedric Benson. We’ll see if the next in line can help the cause. Read more…

Week 6 NFL Power Rankings: West Coast the best coast?

NFL Power Rankings

NFL Power Rankings1. Houston Texans (5-0) – One of the most well-rounded teams with a stud at running back in Arian Foster, but in a very easy division and without a signature win, they are first (for now) and are hurting without Brian Cushing.

Remember those cute little puns about the NFC West this past decade or so?  The NFC Worst?  Not anymore.  The NFC West is now the NFC best.  Every single team in the NFC West is above .500 in the division.  Yes, the St. Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals, and San Francisco 49ers are all above .500, no other division boasts that.

At the top of the division is one of the best teams in the NFL, the 49ers.  Against the Buffalo Bills, the 49ers racked up 300+ yards passing AND rushing in a 45-3 shellacking.  Read that sentence again.  An incredible feat that has never happened, EVER in the NFL.  In a league that has already transformed into a spread offense, pass happy league, the 49ers run the ball at an amazing clip of 6.1 yards per carry through five games, even when teams know what is coming they cannot stop it.  Since San Francisco lost to the surprising Minnesota Vikings, the 49ers had a wake up call, they have outscored their past two opponents 79-3.  And it hasn’t even felt that close.  Alex Smith leads the NFL in passer rating, yes, THAT Alex Smith and he had his first ever win throwing for 300+ yards and three touchdown passes.

The rest of the division possesses potential top-10 defenses with a lackluster passing game.  The Arizona Cardinals may have the worst offensive line in the NFL, with one of the worst quarterbacks under pressure, Kevin Kolb.  Now with the loss of both starting running backs Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells, the run game will be even less effective for the Cardinals.  But they exhibit an elite defense at all three levels that will keep them in the game and with Patrick Peterson, the most dynamic return man in the game, returning punts and kicks, the Cardinals will compete for a playoff spot.  The Seattle Seahawks also exhibit a great defense that has been lifted to potential greatness with first round pick Bruce Irvin as the bookend pass rusher opposite of Chris Clemons.  The difference between them and the Cardinals is they can actually run the ball.  Marshawn Lynch is a beast and Robert Turbin has potential to be one of the better back-up running backs in the NFL.  The Seahawks weakness is that they lack any kind of passing attack.  Russell Wilson has been a nice story, but he’s a rookie and is holding back the Seahawks, we may see Matt Flynn soon.  Tied for third place with the Seahawks is the St. Louis Rams.  The Rams are building in the right direction, but lack any kind of explosiveness from their skilled positions on offense.  The Rams with multiple early round picks in the coming years will be a force to be reckoned with as long as Sam Bradford transforms from injury riddled “Captain Checkdown” to a more explosive passer.

Week 6 NFL Power Rankings:

2. Atlanta Falcons (5-0) – The Falcons pass game has been incredible and the defensive secondary has really improved, but when they need to run it can you really trust Michael “Where’s My Cheeseburger” Turner?

3. San Francisco 49ers (4-1) – The most balanced offense in the NFL. The offense is catching up to its defense, a loss the Vikes might have been a blessing in disguise.

4. Minnesota Vikings (4-1) – The surprise team in the NFL.  Christian Ponder has developed into a good quarterback who doesn’t make mistakes, and Percy Harvin is turning into an MVP candidate. My Fantasy team thanks you.

5. New England Patriots (3-2) – Despite being 3-2, the Pats have a solid run game and defense that this team has lacked the past few years. Thankfully Tom Brady’s nose is still intact. Read more…

Julio Jones: Just how bad is his hand injury?

Julio Jones

Julio Jones

Matt Ryan threw for 369 yards, Michael Turner had 171 total yards and Roddy White had 169 yards and two touchdowns.
Conspicuously absent from that list is Julio Jones, who finished the day with just one catch for 30 yards. Jones had eight targets over the course of the afternoon, so it wasn’t a lack of opportunity to make more plays that kept him from joining the rest of the offensive parade.
According to Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, it wasn’t the Panthers defense either. Koetter said that a lacerated right hand suffered in Week Three against the Chargers had a lot to do with Jones’ quiet day.
“He still had eight targets. That’s a fair number; it just didn’t work out. Eight targets and one catch is not a good percentage,” Koetter said, via Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constituiton. “Julio’s hand is not 100 percent.
Credit him for playing and running his routes hard. But there’s no doubt, [as] we’ve seen him in some earlier games this year, when he’s 100 percent he will be even more effective.” Read more…

NFL Power Rankings Week 4: Dirty Birds rise to the top

Michael TurnerWeek 3 was all about the NFC West and of course, the replacement refs. While the refs played an important role in determining the outcomes of several games, mostly in a negative manner, we tried to take that element out and simply go with what we feel should have happened and what we expect to happen in the future. Hopefully that entails the real referees taking the field shortly.

1. Atlanta Falcons (3-0)↑3

Other than the fact that Michael Turner, who did have a good game on Sunday (14-80-1), is on the Falcons they have some of the best playmakers in the league at their respective positions; Matt Ryan is smart enough to know how to utilize each one.

2. Houston Texans (3-0)↑2

The second of just two undefeated teams, the Texans have a great defense and several key players on offense. Matt Schaub won’t throw four touchdowns often, but when he does it’s time to take notice.

3. San Francisco 49ers (2-1)↓1

It was a rough week for the consensus number one team in the league; their defense looked tired; Alex Smith threw his first interception since Thanksgiving; Frank Gore lost the football; overall they just didn’t seem like the team everyone pronounced as “the best in football.” Let’s see if they bounce back against the Jets in week 4.

4. Baltimore Ravens (2-1)↑1

No matter what your feelings are on the game-winning field goal, this team is good and if Joe Flacco continues to play well they will be great. Read more…

Fantasy Football kickers: The best of the rest

Like we did with tight ends and team defense, we have put together a list of kickers to consider drafting after those in the top tiers are off the board. Those, of course, would include David Akers, Stephen Gostkowski, Sebastian Janikowski, Mason Crosby, and Garrett Hartley-the top five in most leagues. We left out Dan Bailey because he finished third in the league last season in his rookie year and should be considered a top-tier kicker.

And we even threw in some sleepers in this category-perhaps the next Akers or Crosby- because at one point in their careers that’s exactly what they were!

1. Matt Prater-Broncos- Field goal opportunities were at a premium for Prater last season as Denver ranked second in punts in the league. Can’t kick too many F.G. when your team has problems on offense and is forced to punt repeatedly. Once the Broncos brought Peyton Manning on board, they wisely franchised Prater realizing the tremendous talent that he possesses. With a much more potent offense at the ready this season, we think Prater will be a Sleeper candidate. Remember in ’09 he finished the season with 122 fantasy points, just 7 behind Crosby and 27 behind Janikowski, so we know he has the potential.

2. Matt Bryant-Falcons-A team with an explosive offense led by QB Matt Ryan and with weapons such as Roddy White, Julio Jones, and Tony Gonzalez, Bryant will have ample chances to bring your team fantasy points this season. Among active players, he has led the league in field goal accuracy (91.7%) since 2010. Couple that with the fact that the Falcons will play 10 games indoors this season and there is an excellent case to wait for Bryant who will probably be the 8th-9th Kicker to go off the boards.

3. Alex Henery-Eagles- First and foremost, the Eagles CAN score points! Especially if Michael Vick can remain healthy for most of the season..Henery set an NCAA record last year with Nebraska in field goal accuracy (88.9%) which is why Philly made him their fourth round selection in last year’s draft. Look, he’s on a team where David Akers thrived for years, so there’s no reason to believe that Henery won’t either given his collegiate pedigree. Definitely Sleeper material! Read more…

The most impressive quarterbacks of the NFL preseason

Andrew Lucks is looking good during the 2012 NFL PreseasonThe 2012 NFL Preseason is now halfway complete. While you can’t trust everything you see in the preseason (look at Colt McCoy last year), there are things you can pick up on. Here are a few quarterbacks that have impressed us so far and who’s fantasy football arrow is pointing up.

Matt Ryan

Ryan has been my favorite quarterback outside the “Big 6 “(Rodgers, Brady, Brees, Newton, Stafford, Vick) for quite some time now and his preseason performance has only confirmed that. The Falcons seemed committed to running a high tempo offense that is predicated on throwing the ball deep. The emergence of Julio Jones could propel Ryan even higher. A lot of people are on the Matt Ryan bandwagon now, so it’s going to be as easy to get him but don’t let that stop you. The same thing happened to Matthew Stafford last season and he was well worth it.

Andrew Luck

The #1 overall pick got lost a bit during the offseason due to RGIII mania, but he reminded everyone why he was the biggest slam-dunk #1 pick in the past decade with two very good performances in the preseason. He looked like a seasoned veteran in his debut against the St. Louis Rams and even though he threw 2 interceptions against the Pittsburgh Steelers, he still threw the ball very well. Luck is a solid QB2 with sneaky QB1 upside. Read more here…

2012 Fantasy Football: The All-Sleeper Team

sam bradford rams

We all know who the studs are and what they bring to the table. What we don’t know is who those players are that will be late-round draft picks and will put our fantasy football teams over the top. Sleeper picks aren’t always correct, but when you get 1 or 2 right you give yourself a serious advantage over your competition.

Quarterback – Sam Bradford – St. Louis Rams (24 ADP)

The story here is health and protection. It sounds like a health class curriculum, but the Rams need to protect Bradford and keep him healthy if they want to even sniff the playoffs. Bradford now has Steve Smith, formerly of the Eagles and Giants, as a possession weapon and Danny Amendola is looking great in preseason.

Players with higher ADP to avoid: Tim Tebow, Josh Freeman, Robert Griffin III

Running Backs – Jacquizz Rodgers – Atlanta Falcons (55 ADP)

Michael Turner is going to remain the starting running back as long as he is healthy, so don’t expect Rodgers to take over in that regard. However, look for Jacquizz to get nearly all of the third-down looks and be in on a large percent of the passing down situations. Michael Turner isn’t a weapon out of the backfield, by any stretch, and while Jason Snelling may take some PT away from Rodgers, I suspect the former Oregon St. running back will have a much better year than his ADP would lead you to believe.

Players with higher ADP to avoid: Felix Jones, Shane Vereen, Brandon Jacobs

Donald Brown – Indianapolis Colts (37 ADP)

I was looking for running backs with an ADP for their position of at least 40, but the fact that Brown is currently being drafted at 37 among running backs is a joke. In 2011 Brown recorded nine or more fantasy points five times in 12 games; I believe that number will double this year, granted he stays healthy.

Players with higher ADP to avoid: Mark Ingram, Jonathan Stewart, Ben Tate

Read more here…


TTR’s Game Changers – NFC South


Christian Petersen / Getty Images

Join us as TTR Game Changers takes a tour through all 32 teams, identifying one player from every squad that I believe has a great chance of being a game changer in 2012.  To see the full series click here.

Atlanta Falcons – I believe that this year the Atlanta Falcons take the crown of the NFC South away from the Saints, even if it is only for this season. Atlanta will be putting the reigns of the offense in Matt Ryan’s hands more than ever this season and it could produce some real fireworks. Matt Ryan was a Top 10 quarterback in most major statistical categories in 2011, and he will have more weapons to work with in 2012. While some of those weapons are past their prime, two young players on their offense have not even reached their prime yet. I expect Jacquizz Rodgers to make a significant impact this season, as people will realize that he is a capable inside runner as well as a scat back. But it will be the continued development of Julio Jones that will make this team a scary offense. Jones’ main goal will be to take care of his body so he can play in all 16 games, if he does expect him to have Pro Bowl numbers this season, in only his second year as a pro. Roddy White may garner more targets and receptions, but it will be Jones that is the more dynamic player in the ATL.  Read More…

Mike Nolan sees a lot of potential in Sean Weatherspoon

Sean Weatherspoon

The high expectations for Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon aren’t confined to the fans and the media.

Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan thinks that the third-year linebacker has plenty of room for improvement.

“He’s a good player now, but he could be a lot better than he is,” Nolan tells the team’s official website.  “And he will be.  No question, because he loves football and he’s exciting to watch and he’s a playmaker, for all those reasons.  But he’s done well, but he can still do a lot better. I ’m not just saying that because that’s the blanket statement for people, but as I’m watching him, he’s got a lot of upside, so as much good as you’ve seen, he’s got a lot of good in there going forward.”

Learning Nolan’s defense could delay that process a bit. “Primarily, what I see is a guy who just loves to play, but in the new system, he’s still trying to learn the language and things like that,” Nolan said.  “So there’s some way to go, but he’ll find it very friendly and I think he already does see, down the road, how exciting it can be in this system, because a lot of guys have benefited from it. He’s got what it takes to get there.” Read more here…

Julio Jones feels and looks different

Julio Jones

Julio Jones looks different and feels different going into his second season with the Atlanta Falcons.

A nagging hamstring injury kept him from having a big impact during his rookie season, but Jones is looking good so far during the offseason.  He’s also looking different; he’s cut his hair.

“There is a little less weight on the top of his head with his dreads gone, but he’s had a very good camp for us as you saw today,” coach Mike Smith said Wednesday, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  “He made some very nice catches and he’s been making those types of catches all through camp.”

Jones donated his dreads to a charity that makes wigs for children with cancer.  “We do a lot of community service here, and from going to a lot of hospitals and seeing all the kids who are fans of mine, I just cut my hair and donated it for leukemia patients,” Jones said.

Read more here…

Samuel already injecting energy into Falcons

SamuelIn an effort to improve their secondary, the Atlanta Falcons shipped merely a seventh-round pick to the Eagles for cornerback Asante Samuel.  So far, it looks like the Falcons pulled off the kind of steal for which the Eagles had become notorious.

According to Dave Campbell of the Associated Press, Samuel made a real impression in the Falcons’ first full-squad practice of the 2012 offseason.
“Asante I thought did about the same thing he has done to me for four years,” quarterback Matt Ryan said. “He made a good pick.  He’s going to make us better.  Specifically I think he’ll make myself and our wide receivers better going against him and Dunta [Robinson] and [Brent] Grimes every day as corners.  It’s going to be good work for us.”

Roddy White not happy with ranking in Top 100

Roddy WhiteIn NFL Network’s annual ranking of the Top 100 players in the league, as voted on by a poll of active players, Falcons receiver Roddy White has dropped from No. 24 to No. 65. He’s not happy about that.
White said on NFL Network Wednesday night that he is glad his fellow players still consider him one of the 100 best of his peers, but he isn’t happy that he dropped so far. “I’m just happy to be on this list, but not where I’m at,” White said. “I’m not happy with where I’m at on the list. I am happy to be on the list.” Read more here…

Asante Samuel an Atlanta Falcon?

Atlanta has struck gold on this…The Atlanta Falcons are on the verge of acquiring Philadelphia Eagles Pro-Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel for a late-round pick, league sources told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter on Wednesday. Most fans would think that Samuel being 31 years old would be over the hill. That’s not the case in my opinion, plus the Falcons definitely need help on the defensive side of the ball.Matt Ryan gives Samuel praise…“As far as Asante Samuel, I can only speak for having played against him a number of times and I know that’s he’s been extremely difficult to play against and has done a great job against us when we’ve played him in the past,” Ryan said.Samuel as previously stated would give the Falcons a huge boost. I’m sure that Atlanta would welcome Samuel having 45 career interceptions in nine seasons with open arms. Read the rest here…